The day that local anglers have been waiting for has arrived: fishing season began on May 5.
The Ministry of Environment says it has made changes for 2014 to support fish conservation programs and client services, and to ensure sustainability of the resource.
“To ensure that fishing remains a popular and accessible activity in Saskatchewan, we need to plan for the future,” Environment Minister Ken Cheveldayoff said. “These changes to our regulations will help protect our fish populations, and offer anglers a wider range of angling experiences.”
A new, one-day angling licence has been introduced as a convenience to casual fishers in the southern and central zones.
There will also be two free fishing weekends during the 2014-15 season to encourage participation. The first weekend will be July 12 and 13. The other will be February 14 to 16, 2015; Saskatchewan Environment hopes that it will encourage more participation in ice fishing.
Saskatchewan Environment has also imposed some new restrictions. To guard against the potential disease risk to fish populations, only leeches and crayfish originating within Saskatchewan may be used as live bait. Non-resident anglers must now provide proof to an officer, upon request, that their live bait was purchased in Saskatchewan.
Also, a standard condition for competitive fishing event authorizations is that only fish listed in the regulations, or on the licence, are eligible to be kept and weighed in. This amendment clarifies that all fish species not authorized by the regulations or licence must be released immediately.
In addition, an amendment to the definition of a tournament clarifies that fish caught must be released alive, to ensure that tournaments do not operate as catch and kill derby events.
Only First Nation or Métis people, or a member of their immediate family, may assist, aid, fish with, or possess fish taken by an individual fishing for food pursuant to their Aboriginal or Treaty rights.
This amendment is intended to support recognition and respect for Treaty and Aboriginal rights to fish, and prevent non-Aboriginals from taking or possessing more than their legal limit of fish.
Automatic licence suspensions of one to five years for serious offences will be implemented in 2014, and fines for these offences will increase.
The Estevan Wildlife Federation will celebrate the start of fishing season by hosting its annual Opening Day Walleye Classic on Saturday, May 10, at the Boundary Dam Reservoir.